The latest bike to be dropped off at road.cc HQ by the happy chappy from UPS is Lapierre’s £2,199.99 Xelius EFI 200 race machine.
The Xelius EFI – EFI stands for ‘Efficient Frame Interactive’, by the way – is the workhorse of the FDJ professional team and as such it comes with a race-driven geometry. We have the large model in for review with a 55cm seat tube and a 57cm top tube.
Tthe Xelius EFI frame is built to an aggressive geometry. Our review bike (57cm top tube, remember) has a 170mm head tube – pretty short for a bike of this size – a stack height (the vertical distance from the centre of the bottom bracket to the top of the head tube) of 570mm, and a reach (the horizontal distance between those two points) of 396mm.
Put simply, all those stats mean that this is a low and racy frame rather than a short and lofty one, the idea being to put you into a ride position that’s going to deliver all-out speed.
The frame is a really tidy-looking piece of work with a slightly bowing top tube that slopes just a touch between the head tube and the seat tube.
The seatstays have a wide stance, connecting to the very outside edge of the seat tube, while almost square section chainstays look like they’re built with rigidity in mind.
The same goes for the oversized bottom bracket area of the frame which is host to a Shimano PressFit BB, and up front the tapered head tube comes with a 1 1/4in lower bearing. It was a 1 1/2in lower bearing when we reviewed the now extinct Xelius 900 way back in 2009 but Lapierre have brought it down to reduce the frontal area a touch. The fork that fits in there is carbon right down to the steerer.
All the cabling (except for the front brake) is internal, and switching from mechanical to electronic shifting, or vice versa, is a simple enough operation.
Speaking of the components, as we sort of were, there are three Xelius EFI models available in the UK, all of them using exactly the same frame – the same type of carbon fibre, the same layup, the same geometry. These are the different builds:
• Xelius EFI 100, £1,699.99, Shimano 105 groupset, Mavic Aksium WTS wheels
• Xelius EFI 200 – this one – £2,199.99, Shimano Ultegra groupset, Mavic Ksyrium Equipe wheels
• Xelius EFI 400, £2,549.99, Shimano Ultegra groupset, Mavic Ksyrium Elite wheels
You’ve got to love a bit of bullet point action.
Each of those models is available with either a standard (53/39-tooth) chainset or a compact (50/34-tooth) chainset (there is no difference in price).
The Xelius frame you can get on Lapierre's Ultimate programme – the one used by the FDJ riders – is made to the same geometry but with a slightly different layup involving more more VHM (very high modulus) fibres. We're told that the FDJ sprinters actually have bikes just for the sprints. These would be too stiff to ride on all day but the sprinters sometimes switch to them in the last 20km or so of a race. That's what they tell us.
Anyway, back to the plot. As mentioned, our EFI 200 comes equipped with Ultegra, Shimano’s second tier road groupset (if you take the complicating factor of Di2 electronic shifting out of the equation). That’s Ultegra nearly all the way, incidentally: shifters, both mechs, chainset, and brakes. The only downgrade is that Lapierre have specced a Shimano 105 cassette. We have the 53/39 chainset model, by the way.
The wheels are Mavic’s popular Ksyrium Equipes shod with Yksion Comp 23mm tyres. There’s a big move towards 25s these days, even in the pro peloton, but Lapierre stick with skinnies here.
Lapierre finish off the Xelius EFI 200 with branded items almost across the board. The stem is Deda’s alloy Zero 2 and the handlebar is from Deda too: a RHM 02 double butted alloy bar with a short reach.
The saddle is a Selle Italia SL while the only non-big brand item on the bike is Lapierre’s own carbon seatpost in a large 31.6mm diameter.
What does it weigh? The road.cc Scales of Truth say 7.8kg, or about 17.2lb – not that we think the weight is the be-all and end-all, but if we don’t tell you, someone will ask.
Of the road bikes that we’ve reviewed here on road.cc recently, the £2,300 Bianchi Sempre Pro is fairly close to the Lapierre in terms of price.
That has a very different spec – Campagnolo Athena with an FSA chainset and brakes, and Vision Team 30 wheels – so they’re hard to compare directly. The Sempre Pro is also available in a Shimano Ultegra build, though, with an FSA chainset and Fulcrum Racing 7 wheels. That one is priced at £2,999.99.
The Cannondale Synape Carbon Ultegra Disc is £300 more than our Lapierre at £2499.99. As the name reveals, it comes with a Shimano Ultegra based spec but with Shimano’s RS685 hydraulic disc brakes. The wheels are Mavic Aksium One Discs. We rated the Cannondale very highly, but maybe you don’t want disc brakes.
One other bike we’ve tested at a similar price is the Canyon Endurace CF 9.0 SL at £2,299. Canyon, with their direct-to-consumer retail model, pack on astonishing value here with a top-level Shimano Dura-Ace groupset and DT Swiss R23 Spline wheels.
Comparing spec sheets can only take you so far, though. It paints a far from complete picture, so we’ll be taking the Lapierre Xelius EFI 200 out on the roads over Christmas and the New Year and bringing you a complete review in early 2015.
For more details go to www.hotlines-uk.com.
Mat has been in cycling media since 1996, on titles including BikeRadar, Total Bike, Total Mountain Bike, What Mountain Bike and Mountain Biking UK, and he has been editor of 220 Triathlon and Cycling Plus. Mat has been road.cc technical editor for over a decade, testing bikes, fettling the latest kit, and trying out the most up-to-the-minute clothing. We send him off around the world to get all the news from launches and shows too. He has won his category in Ironman UK 70.3 and finished on the podium in both marathons he has run. Mat is a Cambridge graduate who did a post-grad in magazine journalism, and he is a winner of the Cycling Media Award for Specialist Online Writer. Now pushing 50, he's riding road and gravel bikes most days for fun and fitness rather than training for competitions.